I adore Turkey. Thinking about it, I’ve actually lost count of the number of trips we’ve now taken there! A couple of years ago (yeah – I’m that behind on travel blogging) we spent ten days on a road trip in travelling from Izmir to Antalya: stopping at different towns and cities along the way, checking out the sights and eating loads of delicious regional food too!
After flying into Izmir airport, we started off our trip in the coastal town of Alaçatı, where we stayed in the cutest little boutique hotel with the friendliest staff.
The town is stunning, think lots of natural stone, overgrown plants, countless shades of blue – and so much door inspo. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know my love for pretty doors runs deep!
Unfortunately for us on this trip, it was uncharacteristically, quite cold for April. We, ofc, hadn’t packed appropriately for this, and on a couple of occasions were absolutely freezing our toes off! But, that didn’t stop us sampling some delicious local ice cream:
This is one place you can’t miss if you’re in Alaçatı- it’s one of my absolute favourite places to dine in the world! You’re welcomed into this pretty little stone garden and get comfy on white linen-clad tables and wooden blue chairs, under the shade of the fig trees above you. It’s so atmospheric.
For our main, we shared the slow cooked lamb – honestly, it was melt in your mouth goodness!
The coastal town of Cesme is stunning perfect for a day spent bumbling around: window shopping, exploring the marina and mooching around cafes.
Cesme is also a port – connecting Turkey with Greece – so whilst we were here, we took a little day trip across to the island of Chios! Chios is known for being the home of Mastic – derived from trees and used as a spice in cooking/desserts.
The ferry ride across was fairly quick and it was rather nice just being stood outside, watching Greece come into view.
We hired a(nother) car for the day – it was cheap and cheerful, something like £20 maybe, and this meant we could explore the island at our own pace.
Zooming around the winding, narrow country roads with pretty farmhouses and mountains in the backdrop! ❤
Our first stop was pretty little Pyrgi, a traditional mastic village (Mastichochoria). It’s a lovely place and such fun to just get lost in the little streets, taking it all in. Just don’t forget to look up so you can admire the beautiful walls, unique to this island, covered in grey and white geometric patterns!
We stopped in the main plaza for a spot of lunch. For some reason, I only took a couple of pics – but this Greek salad, whilst it may not look like much, was soo freaking good. I still think about it, occasionally! I’m not even joking.
Mr Man loves cats, and, cats love Mr Man. Like I’m not even exaggerating when I say, everywhere we go, he makes new feline friends. This little fella came over and wanted to play, she then decided she wanted to hold hands before snuggling up and getting comfy!
Absolutely adored getting completely lost in these maze-like, sleepy little streets!
Our next stop was another little picture-perfect town, Kalamoti. The worn out stone houses, perfect pastel colours and scattering of overgrown plants are just so, so charming. I couldn’t resist taking loads of pictures!
We then drove down to the coast to check out Vroulidia Beach. It’s a beautiful little corner of the island, with turquoise waters, set into the mountainside.
Sadly, it was actually really cold, so we weren’t able to jump in for a dip. But I mean, look at these colours and that’s despite the sun being completely hidden behind the clouds!
After returning the car, we had a little spare time before our return ferry so spent it pottering about in the main town. And what better way than to sample some delicious food: perfect chicken gyros and delicious, creamy, dreamy ice cream.
The following day, we set off bright and early, driving South, and passing more beautiful coastal roads en route Ephesus.
Ephesus is an ancient Greco-Roman city, once home to 250,000 inhabitants – and just smothered in history. It’s so huge that it’s been under excavation for over a century, despite which, there’s still 80% to go!
Wouldn’t be a proper Roman city without an amphitheatre, right? This would have been used for everything from gladiator contests through to theatre performances.
Can you guess what these are?
Public toilets! This place would have looked a lot nicer – think marble seats and mosaic tiles. Despite some of the richer members of society having their own personal bathrooms at home, they’d still regularly come along to these communal ones to socialise.
There’s a little ‘gutter’ that passes along the floor in front, this would have clean running water flowing through which alongside a natural sponge would be used in place of toilet paper.
The Temple of Hadrian:
One of the ‘oldest adverts in the world’ for the ‘oldest profession in the world.’ This left footprint indicates the brothel up ahead on the lefthand side. If your foot was smaller than the etching, then you were considered too young and would not be permitted entry. And, if you don’t have enough money to fill the hole, don’t bother coming.
The so called house of pleasure stood at the intersection of two main roads, opposite the library. Apparently, there was also an underground tunnel that connected the two.
This indoor exhibit allows you to explore people’s homes and appreciate the mosaics, tiles, paintings and just get a better understanding of how people would have lived.
The Celsus Library
The third largest library of ancient times. It was capable of storing 12,000 scrolls and had double walls with a 1m gap to protect the texts against temperatures/humidity. There would have been a single floor, with a really tall ceiling, the large windows above the doors would have lit the inside well for reading.
This building is so immense – it stands so tall with such detailed carvings – just beautiful.
We spent the rest of the afternoon chilling at our home for the night, Kuşadası. The beach was beautiful, albeit, absolutely freezing!
Dilek Peninsula-Büyük Menderes Delta National Park & Zeus Cave
The next leg of our journey was the drive to Bodrum. We had planned a drive through the Dilek Peninsula-Büyük Menderes Delta National Park, but sadly there was a road closure which meant whilst we could drive in, we couldn’t get very far and had to do a U-turn and take an alternative in-land route.
Pretty darn perfect if you ask me!
There’s also a little cave in the park – such pretty azure-blue water!
En route to our next stop we were in for a treat, beautiful views and a delicious lunch at Ceri Restaurant. Potato, cheese and tomato stuffed gözleme served up with an array of perfect dips: cacik (thick, garlicky yoghurt with cucumber), Ezme (blitzed tomatoes, red peppers, onions and pomegranate molasses) and şakşuka (aubegine chunks in tomato) all washed down with fresh ayran. And for dessert, kabak tatlısı – candied pumpkin with tahini, alongside an obligatory Turkish tea.
What a treat!
The drive was so beautiful, from coastal roads through to endless mountains and then into Bodrum where you just see these perfectly stacked elegant white houses. Incredible.
The views from our hotel for the night weren’t too shabby either:
And the views over the town were incredible,
By day and by night:
We didn’t do an awful lot in Bodrum aside from going for a nice walk and dinner (definitely a good food day!) where we shared a chicken Çökertme.
The following day, we set off for Marmaris. The drive was so enjoyable – even the petrol station had spectacular views! We made our way through more coastal views, country villages and pine forests.
She clapped her hands twice (10 fingers x2) to let us know we owed her 20 lira for our purchase. I’m not sure why, but I really treasure this memory so much and look back on it with such fondness! ❤
All throughout the drive, we’d find ourselves pulling over to enjoy the landscape and the views! It was just so, so beautiful. We even came across this stunning pebble beach, Geren Sahil, which we had to ourselves! Probably just lucked out with it being so cold!
I mean just look at that water, it’s so clear that you can see each and every individual pebble!!
Again – in this scenario we didn’t speak Turkish so had a bit of an interesting time ordering. Thankfully, there was another couple there who spoke English and did a translating jobby for us! We ended up chatting with them and learnt that they’d left Istanbul to come and live in a small village nearby to escape the city, learn to farm and live a simpler life.
Our hotel which was, rather conveniently, right on the beach (again, it was still pretty cold so we didn’t actually go for a swim or anything!) but made for very nice views.
En route the castle, we checked out the grand bazaar, which was a bit like the one in Istanbul but a lot calmer!
The old town – so pretty!
Most of the coastal towns in Turkey have a castle, overlooking the sea. This one was built in 1522, as a military base to protect against attacks.
We ended up in a great restaurant – Memed Ocakbaşı. The food was delicious, the staff were friendly and we had a lovely time.
The next day we set off to Fethiye where we spent a couple of nights. It’s so beautiful in this part of the country. The rugged countryside, the epic coastal views and we also had some pretty amazing foodings too.
We stayed in a cute little hotel with a lovely view of the town houses and mountains.
We took a little day trip to Ölüdeniz for a hike, but first – carb loading with gözleme and cay!
We spent a an hour or so walking up to the top of this view point and despite it being cloudy, boy, was it a rewarding view!
We spent the afternoon bumming around on Çalış Beach. Again, far too cold for a swim but a lovely pebble beach to while away a few hours.
Back in Fethiye for the night – we walked around the beautiful canals and checked out the bustling fish market:
The next day was one filled with more gorgeous views – I honestly, felt like we were pulling up so regularly to take it all in and take a few (read: a lot of) photos!
I mean, check out this little gem for example – butterfly valley.
The hike down is really dangerous and has even claimed a few lives. If you do want to get to the beach and hang out at the bottom, you can take a boat from Oludeniz.
Driving to Kaş was such a treat. The bulk of the ride is winding mountainous coastal roads and it’s just such a joy to stop every so often to take it all in.
I mean just look at the minty green hues in some of these shots! And that’s despite it being cloudy!
And you’ve got stacks of whitewashed houses built into the hills… ❤
We stayed in a lovely little hotel called Luvi Kaş Otel – I adore the variety of tiles around the building.
The town is really lovely – great for long walks (although expect lots of steep hills/stairs – it is built on a mountainside!).
We spent the afternoon at Kaputaş Beach – I mean just look at the colour of the sea here. It’s mesmerising.
Despite the sea being freezing, we went for a quick dip!
The food / restaurants in Kaş were so amazing! We stopped for lunch at this wonderful little joint called Kaşık Mantı- I opted for some traditional Turkish pasta, served up with cheese and crushed walnuts whilst Mr Man went for the kofte.
For dinner we found ourselves tucking into perfectly cooked chicken/meat in Zaika restaurant garden with a selection of mezze – like genuinely melt in the mouth goodness. ❤
En route our final stop (Antalya) we made a couple of stops, the first of which was in the ancient city of Myra. Lycian rock tombs are stacked on top of one another, carved into the mountainside.
I’m forever impressed by detailed rock carvings:
There’s also a rather well preserved 10,000 seat amphitheatre:
We continued driving through the mountains and lush terrain with some more spectacular views like this hairpin turn.
Next stop. Mount Chimaera. We spent like half an hour or something hiking our way upwards to the top to get to the ‘eternal flames.’
There’s basically natural gas that leaks out of these vents, so once a flame is lit, it just keeps burning.
It’s meant to be extra special by nightfall.
Our final stop of the road trip was the coastal city of Antalya. It’s definitely worth spending a few hours walking through the old town and taking in the sights – the old Hadrian Castle gate, ladies sat around expertly rolling out super thin gozleme through to dondurma sellers stretching their ice creams:
The marina in the heart of the old city is also pretty special:
Snow capped mountains in the backdrop, countless blue hues in the sea and rugged rocks, perfect for perching on to admire the views.
The sea was just glittering under the sun!
We also took a little afternoon trip to the Upper Duden Waterfalls:
The speed and volume of water is intense!
You can also follow a little stairwell around and experience the waterwall from behind.
There were also a few pretty memorable meals – from a traditional breakfast spread in the old town at a lovely little place called Mekan Müdavim:
And with that, came the end of our rather incredible trip to Turkey!